Anyone who’s ever traversed even a small section of the rocky mountains in winter, no matter your religious persuasion, has probably found someone to pray to. Unrelenting winds, ice rink conditions, roaring tractor trailers and steep grades make an otherwise enjoyable, scenic drive into a squinting, white-knuckle exploration of your spiritual beliefs.
Thanks to the good people of Butte, Montana travelers literally have a built-in 90-foot idol upon which to focus their prayers.
Modeled after the Virgin Mary, the officially non-denominational statue sits 8,600 feet above sea level atop the East Ridge overlooking the highway and nearly three-quarters of a mile over the citizens of Butte. It was completed in 1985 and dedicated to the women of our earth. Her watchful head alone is over 16 feet tall, and she weighs an estimated 51 tons.
Tours are offered of the statue, but we passed this round. After a harrowing drive from Yellowstone under her protection, we felt we’d already made a close enough connection.